Friday, 17 March 2017

The Greatest Haunted House Film Ever Is...

The Haunting.

Yup, the 1999 Liam Neeson/Catherine Zeta-Jones vehicle is so terrif-

No... Wait, that's not right...

 Aaaah... Much better.

Of course, I mean the 1963 classic based on Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House novel. I have just finished rewatching it again for the lord-knows-how-many-time and it continues to stand up as the prototypical benchmark of the haunted house genre.

A masterpiece in so many respects, the film was ahead of its time. It's a simple story of a researcher inviting a select group to visit and stay with him in a sprawling house with a sordid history to aid him in his paranormal investigations, and the unexplainable and terrifying events that happen therein. Nowadays some people might not give the film a chance based on being in black and white and quite old, but upon my reviewing, The Haunting stands up as a consistently strong and impressive feat in the horror oeuvre.


Interestingly, though the film has some overt paranormal instances, the point is continually hit home that we need to consider it not supernatural, but 'pre-ternatural', or something we cannot explain now but will be able to in the future. It's with this in mind that the film sets the audience off to decide if something strange is indeed going on, or if it is the psychosis of certain characters and a group hysteria. With doors that close on their own, though never while we watch, menacing statues standing over dancing children, an abundance of cherubs/busts/animal trophies that litter the house just begging to move just a little bit, Robert 'The Sound of Music (no, seriously)' Wise proves he is a master of tension. Not a moment in the house is left feeling safe. Even when we return to rooms we have been in before, they feel like completely different rooms. There is so much detail that it is difficult for the eye to get a proper grasp on exactly what it is seeing. The house itself looms as a devious character, aided by Wise having shot it on infrared. 


It's influence can be felt in cinema across the years, from the disorientating layout of the house nodded to in The Shining's Overlook Hotel to the unnervingly framed shots dripped with anticipation of something happening re-appropriated in The Woman in Black. Though a film firmly set in its time, with quite reserved social roles and a black and white palette, The Haunting is able to remain timeless. This is in no small part to the well judged characters, who bring a realism and complexity to the role, and remain relatable, even 55 years on. Watching it now, the visuals are deceptively adventurous, and characters are decidedly progressive (especially by the standards of the time coughTheocough). 

It's hard to argue the influence The Haunting has had since it was released, and it goes without question that it will remain in the DNA of the haunted house genre for a long time to come, if not forever. 


What do you think? Are you still terrified as Eleanor makes her way up the spiral staircase, or has a different dastardly dwelling taken this classic's place as top dog?


Enjoying reading what I'm writing? I make films as well. You can check out the film I produced right now at www.sodiumparty.com. Buying from here directly helps us make more films. You can also search for Sodium Party, Horses For Moths (you KNOW you want to know what that title means!) and The O'Briens on Amazon US/UK/Germany/Japan right now, and stream for free if you have Amazon Prime!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Why Don't You Play With Me Anymore?

After getting some short film love planted in my brain by David Sandberg's recent appearance on the Shock Waves podcast (plus his recently released free audio commentary), I've been pondering some of my own short film work. 

David's short that brought him to international attention, Lights Out, was made as part of a competition for horror film group Bloody Cuts and, wouldn't you know it, I actually made and submitted a short myself. Obviously, the sucker didn't win, but there's a lot in it I still dig, a few years on. Disturbing dolls and creepy child paintings will always be classics! 

Check it out below.




Enjoying reading what I'm writing? I make films as well. You can check out the film I produced right now at www.sodiumparty.com. Buying from here directly helps us make more films. You can also search for Sodium Party, Horses For Moths (you KNOW you want to know what that title means!) and The O'Briens on Amazon US/UK/Germany/Japan right now, and stream for free if you have Amazon Prime!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

An Early Screening of LOGAN


So I got the opportunity to see a preview screening of Logan last night, and well, it is the perfect final outing for the Wolverine.

I'm going to keep this spoiler free, especially since there's a week before the film goes on general release, but it's worth sharing a few thoughts. If you've seen the trailer, you have a good sense of the tone and style of the film, and let me tell you, it's a shame it's taken so long for it to be executed like this, since the film is absolutely spot on for it. 




Moving away from the scifi aesthetic of the main series, Logan feels dusty and gritty, like the sun glaring in your eyes all the way. As for the violence? You'd better believe that is a hard R rating. This is the first X-Men film that pulls out all the stops and sheds the blood with vicious glee, drawing even me, a long-in-the-tooth gore hound, to go wide-eyed. 

Director James Mangold's last Wolverine-orientated film (though it could be argued most X-Men films are Wolverine-orientated) toed the line for a more serious style, and though it didn't quite hit with fans, I think this one will. This film is not for kids or those wanting the safe and colourful Marvel Universe films, which is one of it's strengths, bringing a lack of hand-holding. There's a lot of blanks to be filled in by the viewer in regards to the events that have passed leading up to this future setting, with more than enough satisfying clues left to fill in the harrowing details. 


The entire cast nails it, and enough cannot be said about Dafne Keen's Laura, but it is Hugh Jackman and Patrick Steward who will steal the show for the long-time fans, with Logan's caring of his old friend and mentor constantly drawing a tear to the eye. I'm not going to say more on this, but the entire film has a strong emotional core of regret, fear, and longing. What happens when the future doesn't turn out like you'd hoped, and all your work has been for nothing? Logan doesn't shy away from how emotionally crippling that can be.

There's a lot in this film to like, and it is definitely the Wolverine film fans have been clambering for all this time. There inevitably will be more X-Men films after this one, but this may be the final Wolverine one, and it acts as a perfect ending for either series. 


Enjoying reading what I'm writing? I make films as well. You can check out the film I produced right now at www.sodiumparty.com. Buying from here directly helps us make more films. You can also search for Sodium Party, Horses For Moths (you KNOW you want to know what that title means!) and The O'Briens on Amazon US/UK/Germany/Japan right now, and stream for free if you have Amazon Prime!

Friday, 17 February 2017

I May Have A Few Demons...

Well, I have been quite sick for the past few days, which is very unusual for me. Nothing too interesting to note. I slept funny. I couldn't concentrate well. I felt generally awful. The usual. 

However, the other day, my throat began making the strangest noises. No doubt, it's the usual clogging up with mucus (hello, ladies), but these noises ran through my head for a few days (including while I slept. Woo) and of course I had to record em and share em in a visual form.

What is below is an untreated recording of my breathing from the other morning. I have EQed it to remove the hiss from my phone and looped it, but the several voices you hear at once? All happened in the moment. I guess there is really only one answer here; I'm possessed.




Enjoying reading what I'm writing? I make films as well. You can check out the film I produced right now at www.sodiumparty.com. Buying from here directly helps us make more films. You can also search for Sodium Party, Horses For Moths (you KNOW you want to know what that title means!) and The O'Briens on Amazon US/UK/Germany/Japan right now, and stream for free if you have Amazon Prime!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Shed Some Light on Lights Out

I love me a good audio commentary, and Lights Out director David F. Sandberg has not disappointed.

The filmmaker was recently asked on Twitter about if there would ever be a commentary released for his debut feature, and came back just a few hours later with this beauty, all for free.

So sit back, chillax, and get your education on with Sandberg and star Lotta Losten.




I must admit that I am not a huge fan of the feature version of Lights Out, but was massively affected by the short film version, embedded below, and have become fascinated with Sandberg and his Vimeo channel. Well worth a watch for any filmmakers, especially those of the DIY variety. If you liked Lights Out, you MUST check out Closet Space and Attic Panic, and follow it up with the making of videos, where he shows you just how important Ikea can be to an indie moviemaker.




Enjoying reading what I'm writing? Wanna help a fella out? You can check out the film I produced right now as www.sodiumparty.com. Buying from here directly helps us make more films. You can also search for Sodium Party, Horses For Moths (you KNOW you want to know what that title means!) and The O'Briens on Amazon US/UK/Germany/Japan right now!